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When the cloud falls

At the recent Dell EMC Africa Partner Summit, partners from all over Africa gathered in one place to share information, and many of those discussions focused on cloud. BRAD PULFORD,  GM for Channel & Distribution at Dell EMC South Africa, offers insight into why many customers fail with cloud.

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Becoming a cloud-first business is fantastic – and that’s putting it mildly. Companies that adopted a cloud-first business model recover 96 times faster from a disaster, spend less than half the time on security than their peers and are more than twice as effective at retaining talent than competitors. Embracing the cloud makes a lot of business sense.

This message is not lost on companies, but unfortunately wanting something and executing it successfully are two very different things. As cloud adoption accelerates, it is becoming clear that many organisations, big and small, are struggling to make the change and see real value. Why is this happening?

“Cloud is a very fluid word right now,” said Pulford. “Consumers all have different consumption needs. But because they treat cloud as a destination and not a shift in their business model, they often end up with what doesn’t work for their needs.”

What is cloud?

So companies aren’t seeing the value, because they still don’t grasp what cloud is and how to align it with their world. Let’s take the conversation back to its basics: what is cloud? According to the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology, cloud has five essential characteristics:

  • on-demand self-service
  • broad network access
  • resource pooling
  • rapid elasticity or expansion, and
  • measured service

These can be found in three service models – software, platform and infrastructure – and four deployment models, namely private, community, public and hybrid.

This is already a mouthful, so no wonder companies are not up for the due diligence required. The IT industry isn’t helping: vendors and service providers are too likely to try and shoehorn a customer into one of their services, ignoring the nuanced needs of the business.

Forget the jargon

But fortunately, you don’t have to become a cloud fundie to make sense of this. There is a much simpler and more practical way forward, Pulford explained:

“Cloud impacts your company’s workloads, meaning the data and tasks that your business systems are running. That is where your perspective lives. The nature of a workload says a lot of the kind of cloud it is looking for. You should start by profiling the applications in your organisation.”

A common mistake companies make is they get stuck on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as a viable cloud model. This is cloud’s most visible wave of change and involves letting go of underlying infrastructure, paying purely for the service. For example, using Office365 to manage email, calendar and Office functions such as spreadsheets.

But what about a SAP ERP? Such a system often involves many customisations that are unique to the business. Replicating those tweaks requires a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or even Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) approach, if the business wants more control over the nuts and bolts behind the applications. Some business applications may need to be virtualised through a hypervisor such as VMWare. Others might be better when separated into several services.

Certain workloads may work best if temporarily shifted to a hyperscale cloud environment – essentially a supercomputer on steroids – where they can be concluded faster or take advantage or special services there, like AI for business analytics. A payroll workload can go from days to minutes if the right cloud model is applied. All this can even happen inside a company on its own private cloud and hand-picked infrastructure. Something such as a flash-storage array can quadruple a system’s performance several times over.

“What are the applications at the core of your business?” Pulford asked. “Can they be modernised with cloud-native versions? Should they be virtualised? What is the best cloud can offer for those particular workloads? And what are the business benefits that you will see from the different cloud options? That is the way to approach cloud – not cloud for cloud’s sake, but cloud for the sake of your applications.”

Most cloud implementations fail because they are not considered from the business and business application perspectives. Instead, customers are dazzled with cost and performance metrics. Those are very achievable, but only if the migration is from a business-first perspective.

What does your business need? The answers lie with your applications, so start there…

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Legion gets a pro makeover

Lenovo’s latest Legion gaming laptop, the Y530, pulls out all the stops to deliver a sleek looking computer at a lower price point, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Gaming laptops have become synonymous with thick bodies, loud fans, and rainbow lights. Lenovo’s latest gaming laptop is here to change that.

The unit we reviewed housed an Intel Core i7-8750H, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. It featured dual storage, one bay fitted with a Samsung 256GB NVMe SSD and the other with a 1TB HDD.

The latest addition to the Legion lineup has become far more professional-looking, compared to the previous generation Y520. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the gaming laptop market and appeals to those who want to use a single device for work and play. Instead of sporting flashy colours, Lenovo has opted for an all-black computer body and a monochromatic, white light scheme. 

The laptop features an all-metal body with sharp edges and comes in at just under 24mm thick. Lenovo opted to make the Y530’s screen lid a little shorter than the bottom half of the laptop, which allowed for more goodies to be packed in the unit while still keeping it thin. The lid of the laptop features Legion branding that’s subtly engraved in the metal and aligned to the side. It also features a white light in the O of Legion that glows when the computer is in use.

The extra bit of the laptop body facilitates better cooling. Lenovo has upgraded its Legion fan system from the previous generation. For passive cooling, a type of cooling that relies on the body’s build instead of the fans, it handles regular office use without starting up the fans. A gaming laptop with good passive cooling is rare to find and Lenovo has shown that it can be achieved with a good build.

The internal fans start when gaming, as one would expect. They are about as loud as other gaming laptops, but this won’t be a problem for gamers who use headsets.

Click here to read about the screen quality, and how it performs in-game.

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Serious about security? Time to talk ISO 20000

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By EDWARD CARBUTT, executive director at Marval Africa

The looming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) have brought information security to the fore for many organisations. This in addition to the ISO 27001 standard that needs to be adhered to in order to assist the protection of information has caused organisations to scramble and ensure their information security measures are in line with regulatory requirements.

However, few businesses know or realise that if they are already ISO 20000 certified and follow Information Technology Infrastructure Library’s (ITIL) best practices they are effectively positioning themselves with other regulatory standards such as ISO 27001. In doing so, organisations are able to decrease the effort and time taken to adhere to the policies of this security standard.

ISO 20000, ITSM and ITIL – Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM) and reflects a business’s ability to adhere to best practice guidelines contained within the ITIL frameworks. 

ISO 20000 is process-based, it tackles many of the same topics as ISO 27001, such as incident management, problem management, change control and risk management. It’s therefore clear that if security forms part of ITSM’s outcomes, it should already be taken care of… So, why aren’t more businesses looking towards ISO 20000 to assist them in becoming ISO 27001 compliant?

The link to information security compliance

Information security management is a process that runs across the ITIL service life cycle interacting with all other processes in the framework. It is one of the key aspects of the ‘warranty of the service’, managed within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The focus is ensuring that the quality of services produces the desired business value.

So, how are these standards different?

Even though ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 have many similarities and elements in common, there are still many differences. Organisations should take cognisance that ISO 20000 considers risk as one of the building elements of ITSM, but the standard is still service-based. Conversely, ISO 27001 is completely risk management-based and has risk management at its foundation whereas ISO 20000 encompasses much more

Why ISO 20000?

Organisations should ask themselves how they will derive value from ISO 20000. In Short, the ISO 20000 certification gives ITIL ‘teeth’. ITIL is not prescriptive, it is difficult to maintain momentum without adequate governance controls, however – ISO 20000 is.  ITIL does not insist on continual service improvement – ISO 20000 does. In addition, ITIL does not insist on evidence to prove quality and progress – ISO 20000 does.  ITIL is not being demanded by business – governance controls, auditability & agility are. This certification verifies an organisation’s ability to deliver ITSM within ITIL standards.

Ensuring ISO 20000 compliance provides peace of mind and shortens the journey to achieving other certifications, such as ISO 27001 compliance.

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